Article provided by: Women’s Health Matters
Walking is easy, energizing and doesn't cost a penny. It is a great choice, especially for those who have been inactive or not very active. Start with good walking shoes and whatever distance you can do at a pace that makes you pleasantly tired. Add minutes gradually. In bad weather, try mall-walking or exercising at a fitness club. Walking has been steadily gaining ground as a popular exercise.
The Cooper Institute for Aerobics Research (a well-known independent centre in the US) found that walking three miles (about five kilometres) a day, five days a week, reduces women's risk of heart disease by up to 18 percent. That was true whether the women:
• strolled at 20 minutes per mile
• walked briskly at 15 minutes per mile or
• walked very vigorously at 12 minutes per mile
Faster walking meant a greater fitness gain, but even strolling improved heart health considerably.
The Cooper Institute study also found that HDL or "good" cholesterol rose with both slow and vigorous walking. Walking for 30 minutes, four or five times a week can lower your blood pressure and help you lose weight. A brisk, 45-minute walk can burn about 300 calories.